TIMBER! koldo almandoz   I  txo!? What films to see on TV at Yuletide
Once, while travelling from Mexico to New York, Buñuel was invited to a Christmas party. After supper, Amparo Rivelles, also present at the gathering, began to recite "Oda a la madre patria" (Ode to the motherland). Buñuel promptly stood up from the table and proceeded to smash the Christmas tree into little pieces. A week later, at a party held at Charlie Chaplin's on New Year's Eve, the host, on seeing the director of Calando arrive, rushed over and led him by the elbow up to the Christmas tree he had in his home and told him:
- If you're going to repeat last week's scene, you had better get it over and done with.
Christmas rubs off on everything, and cinema is no exception. Just as the "Road Movie" and the "Terror" genre exist, so too does the "Christmas" film. It can be bracketed in with the animated Disney films and other movies with a Christian message that we have seen over the years. Cinema is a form of capturing reality, and, thus, has always reflected changes in the make up of society. Television, our sponsored little home cinema, has also been infected with the spirit of "jingle-bells". Just like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day", we wince away our yearly hangovers watching the likes of "The Sound of Music", "Ben Hur" and "King of Kings". As the offer on the different channels is quite weak, here are a few recommendations to watch on DVD or video:

If you’re one of those people who stick up a crib, or if you think that the director of Calanda is nothing but a damnable sinner, you had better stick to flicks that portray the classic Christmas spirit. "It's a Wonderful Life", the story of a dopey-looking frustrated suicidal maniac and a classic among classics, has become indispensable viewing at Christmas in western society. It's no coincidence that this story about the poor fool George Bailey has become a Christmas classic; the producers who had the rights to this movie forgot to renew them when they ran out, and as Hollywood was in the midst of a boycott on TV Stations, this film by Frank Capra (along with several others in the same situation) was one of the only few that could be shown on TV.
The following films are all of the same ilk: "It's a Wonderful Life": "Scrooge", based on a book by Charles Dickens, "Meet Me in St Louis", "Little Women", "White Christmas"...
Having finished taking off Buñuel by wrecking the Christmas tree and chucking all the little coloured Christmas balls out the window, you are now ready to sit back and enjoy a great Spanish film: "Placido". In this feature film Luis Garcia Berlanga aptly captures the Spain of the early 60's and proceeds to take the piss out of the custom of having the poor and needy over for their Christmas dinner.
Apart from his criticism of society, Alex de la Iglesia, in "El Dia de la Bestia", also gives us a different angle on the Christmas story: a Basque priest's as he tries to prevent the birth of the Antichrist. Rumour has it that the monks at Arantzatzu include this amongst their favourites for their Christmas cinema club. If you have kids about, you can also choose a picture fit for all the general public in "Gremlins". Don't be a bad bastard by throwing water all over the house pet.
There are a few special films to be found among the old classics. "Christmas in July", shot in 1940, is full of sharp criticism and irony for its time, and even though it can hardly be considered old -1993 -, Tim Burton and Henry Selick's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" has already become a Yuletide favourite. In this masterwork of animation Jack Skellington - for Lehendakari - kidnaps Santa Claus and turns Christmas into a big Halloween party.
There are many Christmas films, and of all sorts and types too. Those of you who think that Buñuel is a softy are also able to choose something a little more to your liking. "Jack Frost Christmas Killer".The title sums the film up wonderfully. And finally, a movie really in tune with the times: "Invasion USA". The Cuban and Nicaraguan Armies - back in the good old days when fundamentalist Muslims were the good guys - invade The States with the help of the Russians on Christmas Day. There's no need to be afraid however, Chuck Norris is there to save the free world from the clutches of communism.
If these films don't help you get through the Christmas period and you really feel in need of total anaesthesia, you can always fall back on the handball matches on ETB1.